Minnesota Vikings Player Draft Breakdown
By: Myles Gorham
The Minnesota Vikings went into this year’s 2017 NFL Draft with 8 picks. They traded away their first-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Sam Bradford when Teddy Bridgewater got injured. In this article, I will do a quick breakdown of the teams picks in rounds 2 through 4.
The team went into Friday with three picks (48, 79 & 86) in rounds 2 and 3. With the biggest holes being at offensive line, running back and linebacker, the team went into Day 2 with an obvious plan. Let’s dive-in.
Dalvin Cook – Running Back
Round 2 Pick 41
Sitting at pick 48 in the second round. The Minnesota Vikings were looking to add an instant contributor. With a variety of names still on the board at pick 40, Rick and co. did not want to miss out on their guy. The team traded with the Cincinnati Bengals to get to pick 41. Giving the Bengals picks 48 and 128 (Round 4) to get Florida State’s running back, Dalvin Cook.
A first-round talent who saw his stock fall with some off-field question marks. Cook’s an explosive playmaker who has excellent vision and balance. Can score from anywhere on the field. He fits well in the zone run scheme that the Vikings are moving towards under Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur. Cook has good patience, and when he hits a seam he’s gone. Good receiving ability out of the backfield, and can split out wide and run routes. Although just 5’10” 210lbs, Cook is hard to take down. His balance and underrated strength helped him break plenty of tackles in college.
With some off-field question marks, Cook fell to the second round. Ball security has been a concern for him (13 fumbles in three seasons). Good straight line speed, but lack of wiggle to shake defenders consistently. Needs work in pass protection. Injury issues, that you hope don’t follow him to the NFL.
Dalvin Cook was brought in to contribute immediately, and should help both the run and pass game. The team zeroed in on Cook to be the long-term running back solution after letting future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson leave after 10 seasons.
Pat Elflein – Center/Guard
Round 3 Pick 70
After addressing the running back position in round 2, the Vikings were still in need of help on the offensive line. With names like Taylor Moton, Ethan Pocic and Dion Dawkins coming off the board late in round 2. The team did not want to miss out on the few remaining starters available. They moved up from pick 79 to the Jets pick at 70 for Ohio State’s center, Pat Elflein.
Elflein is strong at the point of contact, and a mauler in the run game. He looks for contact when he is uncovered. Tone setter who finishes his blocks with ferocity. Has position flexibility (Played both guard positions before moving to center full-time).
Overall, not a lot of glaring weaknesses to Elflein’s game. Not the quickest of feet, and struggles with short area quickness. Has issues coming off initial blocks due lack of overall quickness.
Pat Elflein had a second-round grade from me. So, for the team to get him in the third-round, is a steal. Head Coach Mike Zimmer has stated that they expect him to play center this season. Elflein is expected to be the Day 1 starter at center, which should move Joe Berger to right guard.
Jaleel Johnson – Defensive Tackle
Round 4 Pick 109
The Vikings traded back twice from picks 86 to 102, then to 109 to accumulate some of the picks used to trade up for both Dalvin Cook and Pat Elflein. With the 109th pick (Second pick in round 4) the Vikings selected Iowa’s defensive tackle, Jaleel Johnson. Arguably the team’s second biggest need with Shariff Floyd’s health in question.
Jaleel Johnson has a strong first punch when engaging offensive lineman. His quick first step allows him to gain early leverage. Excels against the run with his power and violent hands. High energy motor, with position flexibility to play both the 3-tech and nose.
Johnson needs some work with hip flexibility, which can cause him to be too high at the point of attack. Excellent against the run, he needs work rushing the passer.
Jaleel Johnson is arguably my favorite pick based on value and position of need. I rated Johnson as a third-round talent, so getting him in the fourth round is a steal. He will come in right away as a rookie and contribute in the defensive line rotation. Where Johnson will help the most as a rookie is in the run game, where the defense struggled the most last season.
Ben Gedeon – Linebacker
Round 4 Pick 120
The Vikings had just picked DT Jaleel Johnson with the second pick of the fourth round (No. 109). After taking both RB Dalvin Cook and OL Pat Elflein on Day 2. The other glaring hole the team was looking to address was linebacker. Insert Michigan’s linebacker Ben Gedeon with pick No. 120.
Ben Gedeon got his first crack at the full-time middle linebacker position last season as a Senior. Gedeon impressed with his 100 total tackles, 15.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks last season.
Instinctual player, who dissects plays quickly. Trusts his eyes when running downhill (15.0 TFL’s). Good at the point of attack when engaging both offensive lineman, running backs and tight ends. Special team’s contributor all four years in Ann Harbor.
Although tested extremely well at the Combine, (4.75 40, 11.58 60 yd shuttle & 4.13 20yd shuttle) he struggles in space. Issues with missed tackles last season (13 missed tackles, according to NFL.com).
Gedeon should contribute right out the gate on all four special team’s units. Will have the opportunity to challenge Kentrell Brothers for the backup middle linebacker spot as a rookie. I’d almost compare this move to when the Vikings made Rhett Ellison a fourth-round pick back in 2012. Key special team’s contributor right away, who could eventually earn an important role on defense.
Be on the lookout later this week for Tim Brown's (@TMBScouting) quick breakdown of the players selected in Rounds 5-7.